Tag Archives: The Return of The Living Dead

The Return of The Living Dead (1985)

Okay, here’s the crazy thing about The Return of The Living Dead from 1985… I’d rate it as a Yellow Puss film, and while it’s kind of a cruddy film I’d also have to say that as zombie films go it’s kind of an important film of the genre.  Crazy, huh?!?

 

So here’s the gist…

 

Fifteen years ago a medical supply warehouse was contracted by the military to store some specialized barrels containing cadavers preserved in an experimental gas.  While two employees are in the basement — a young buck new hire and an old pro — they accidentally release vapors from one of the barrels which reanimates the corpse into a flesh-eating zombie.  After fighting off the zombie, they illicit help cremating the body at the mortuary across the street.  As smoke and ashes are expelled through the chimney, rain begins to fall outside … onto the cemetery … where a group of punk rockers (friends of the warehouse new-hire) are screwing around and killing some time.

From here the film turns into something not often seen in a zombie film….  MANY zombie films have what I call ‘The Journey’ — the human survivors have to get from Point-A to Point-B for one reason or another.  They can survive in the other location, the cure for the outbreak is at Point-B, whatever the reason they have to travel from one place to another usually failing to work together, occasionally being attacked by zombies to move the story along, and the survivor group loses its numbers through attrition. This doesn’t have The Journey.  In place of that, the punks and the professionals retreat into the warehouse and mortuary to try and stave off the attacking zombies.  Instead of a journey story line this film works in a siege setting, where there is B-film corny-ness and constant action.

Without giving anything more away, I’d like to touch on why this film is important…  Simply, it stands as an icon of the genre.  For a budget of $4M it was actually decently made in that it actually still looks pretty good.  I’ve seen The Return of The Living Dead II (1988) recently, and comparatively it was poorly made.  The original also has two of the biggest icons of the Z-film genre…

WHAT — you didn’t think I was going to post a graphic picture did you?!?! That’s a different website — look through your search history…

The Return of The Living Dead quite frankly has The Most Iconic Zombie Film Boobs … or in this case a completely naked dancing woman — delivered by scream queen Linnea Quigley playing a punk rocker girl named Trash dancing naked at the cemetery and selling loads of tickets at the box-office.  DO NOT WATCH THIS FILM WITH YOUR KIDS … or your parents.

Remember that cadaver in the experimental barrel I mentioned above?  The zombie that comes out of it is known within the zombie genera as “Tar Man” and made a distinct play on the zombie desire in saying “BRAINS!

Okay, now, things I’m not so good with from this film…

The zombies are fast moving — I’m cool with that. The zombies are cognizant, and 90 times out of 10 I’m not cool with that. In this film they can also talk and problem solve …. I’m not just talking about beating their way through doors and windows, I mean they can open doors, apply tools to barricades, it just doesn’t work for me…. But It Could Have…

The ‘How’ part of the zombies being cognizant wasn’t developed. Watching the film, I saw how this could have been done within the story but I’m not going to take the time to propose this about a decades-old film because what’s the point? I have better things to do. Seriously, were I to put that time and thought into this film I’d be no better than the people that claim to be major Star Wars fans and yet spend LOADS of time complaining about how wrong and poorly-done Star Wars is.

The way the film ends it should have created an unstoppable world zombie outbreak. The Part-2 film doesn’t start based off the ending of this film but it does draw from the military chemical barrels — but at least they did bring Tar Man (or another Tar Man) back onto the screen.

The Return of the Living Dead IMDbWikipedia, and Rotten Tomatoes